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University of Iowa News Release

Oct. 24, 2005

Dark Energy Is Subject Of Oct. 29 Lecture

What is the fate of the Universe and how will the mysterious entity called "dark energy" influence it?

Those questions and others will be addressed by Robert Mutel, professor of astronomy in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Department of Physics and Astronomy, when he speaks on "Through a Glass Darkly: Dark Energy and the Fate of the Universe," at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 29 in Room 40 of Schaeffer Hall, the southeast building on the UI Pentacrest. The talk is free and open to the public.

The session, the final lecture in the CLAS 2005 Saturday Scholars lecture series, will examine a 1998 discovery -- one of the most astonishing and fundamental discoveries in the history of cosmology -- that found the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate under the influence of a mysterious property of space called dark energy.

Dark energy, which appears to be created directly from the vacuum, causes all galaxies to recede from one other at ever-increasing rates of speed. The energy contained in dark energy completely dominates all other sources of energy and matter in the universe and is the primary energy source of the universe. By studying the properties and nature of dark energy, astronomers hope to understand how the universe was created in a "Big Bang," learn how elementary particles of matter are created and vanish in the vacuum and predict the ultimate fate of the universe. In his lecture, Mutel will discuss how dark energy was discovered, outline current and future observations designed to determine its nature and forecast what role it could play in our understanding of the creation and fate of the universe.

In connection with his Saturday Scholars talk, Mutel will be a guest on "Talk of Iowa" on WSUI-AM 910 and WOI-AM 640 at 10 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 27.

Mutel joined the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences faculty in 1975. His research interests include the study of radio jets from super massive black holes, radio emission from the Earth's magnetosphere and maser emission from stars and star formation regions. He also developed the Iowa Robotic Observatory, an optical telescope in southern Arizona operated remotely by faculty and students on campus in Iowa City. He has held visiting scholar appointments at Cambridge University, the Bureau des Longitudes in Paris, Caltech and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He has won numerous teaching and research awards, including the Antarctic Service Medal of the United States (1973), Faculty Scholar Award (1983), Distinguished Iowa Science Teaching Award (1997), the President's Innovative Technology Award (1998), NASA's Group Achievement Award (2004) and the Hubbard Award for Outstanding Education (2004).

Saturday Scholars was developed by Linda Maxson, dean of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, to give members of the public a chance to hear about the latest teaching and research innovations by faculty members in the college. The sessions last about an hour, including a 20-30 minute presentation followed by time for questions. Refreshments are served. Additional information is available at

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in advance at 319-335-2610.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, 319-384-0009,